For the Global Thinker

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Ethics of the US Role in the Drug War

This debate is long overdue for many practical reasons; every pundit in every relevant country seems to agree that the drug war long ago failed. But there is also a very good ethical reason to start rethinking current US strategy. As the world's largest consumers of narcotics, the American market has stoked violence, conflict, armed insurgency, corruption, and human rights abuses abroad. It would be akin to if U.S. consumers had bought diamonds from West African warlords in Sierra Leone and Liberia during conflicts there a decade ago. Whether those purchases are legal or not, they'd support groups that take a heavily civilian toll. Today, American money (and guns—another story) are propping up the drug wars faster than any government agencies, U.S. or foreign, can fight back. More than 50,000 have been killed in Mexico since 2006 alone. The president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla,  expressed the frustration that many in Latin America are experiencing when she told Biden "we demand the United States assume responsibility.''

Of course, one might argue that it's not up to the United States to help sort out drug war conflicts abroad. And anyway, Washington certainly has contributed money to the cause—more than $6 billion in Colombia and another several billion now in Mexico. Biden promised to ask for more funds to assist countries in Central America during his visit earlier this month.

No amount of aid, however, can de-link the United States from these conflicts—and it's this piece that has long frustrated many Latin American leaders. The United States isn't just a foreign country, helping out troubled neighbors. It's actually the very country whose consumers are keeping the market bouyant. It is part of this equation. So when Mexico goes to war with its cartels, the United States is, essentially, also at war.

In order to extricate itself from this conflict, the United States would have to cease to provide a lucrative market for drugs. And here's where the argument for decriminalization comes in.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Robert Adams

I've always liked the plain and starkness of his photos.  Robert Adams is an American nature photographer who photographed the American West for the last four decades...Here is a selection of some his best work.  Switch on your favourite lounge or jazz  music and...enjoy.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

 Here is a link to more of his work...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

It's Time to Upgrade Your Biological Software

A very persuasive article based on a simple premise: eat real food.  Read on and you'll find out why this article is definitely worth sharing...

We are in the midst of the single biggest global epidemic of chronic disease in the history of human species. We will spend 47 trillion dollars over the next 20 years dealing with it. 90 percent of people who have it are not diagnosed, and in America alone it affects one half of the population. This chronic disease is "diabesity," and it is preventable.

The most basic things Hyman says you can do to be more healthy: eat real food.

That seems like simple enough advice, but there is a huge sector of the U.S. economy -- a loose conspiracy, as Hyman calls it -- that is set up to thwart your efforts to be healthy because it is more profitable for this industry if you are fat and unhealthy.

Hyman points out that while the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation spends $100 million fighting childhood obesity in this country, the food industry spends that in four days to promote junk food and processed food. In fact, the worse the food is for you, the more the food industry spends to promote it.

Spend they can, and spend they do. Hyman tells Big Think:

There is a loosely organized conspiracy to promote disease and obesity. By default or by design, one-third of our economy profits from people being sick and fat, so Big Food, which is industrial food, Big Farming, which is agribusiness, and Big Pharma all profit from making people sicker and fatter.

That is why Hyman says most of what is consumed in America today is not really food. "It’s factory-made science projects" that Hyman says may resemble food, "but are actually Frankenfood."

So why do we consume it? Marketing is one reason we've already cited. But consider another one. Emerging science has shown that our food addiction is worse than that of cocaine and heroin addicts. In fact, its not even up for debate. "When you take...


Also check out this story...  

Pink Slime Found in 70% of Ground Beef

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Next Hundred Years

A great antidote to today's mainstream plastic pop world.  Vancouver-based hard rockers, The Next Hundred Years' new album is raw and heavy with some cool songs like F.I.T, Pyramid and 1987.  Play it loud!

Listen to full album here...

Monday, March 19, 2012

How one man escaped from a North Korean prison camp

Absolutely fascinating story...

There was torture, starvation, betrayals and executions, but to Shin In Geun, Camp 14 – a prison for the political enemies of North Korea – was home. Then one day came the chance to flee…


Nine years after watching his mother's hanging, Shin In Geun squirmed through the electric fence that surrounds Camp 14 and ran off through the snow into the North Korean wilderness. It was January 2, 2005. Before then, no one born in a North Korean political prison camp had ever escaped. As far as can be determined, Shin is still the only one to do it.

He was 23 years old and knew no one outside the fence.

Within a month, he had walked into China. Within two years, he was living in South Korea. Four years later, he was living in Southern California.
Stunted by malnutrition, he is short and slight -- five feet six inches, about 120 pounds. His arms are bowed from childhood labor. His lower back and buttocks are scarred with burns from the torturer's fire. The skin over his pubis bears a puncture scar from the hook used to hold him in place over the fire. His ankles are scarred by shackles, from which he was hung upside down in solitary confinement. His right middle finger is cut off at the first knuckle, a guard's punishment for dropping a sewing machine in a camp garment factory. His shins, from ankle to knee on both legs, are mutilated and scarred by burns from the electrified barbed-wire fence that failed to keep him inside Camp 14.


Here are some drawings of the harsh life in North Korean Prisons...

Check out some amazing photographs of North Korea here...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Good News from Ashgabat

A short, but well-written piece on a little-known area of the world...

Turkmenistan, a nation the size of California, and home to 5.5 million people who live atop some of the world’s largest natural gas reserves, recently held presidential elections. The outcome was never in doubt: President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov was reelected with over 97 percent of the vote. A licensed dentist, Berdymukhamedov came to power suddenly in December 2006, through a series of extra-constitutional maneuvers after the death of former president Saparmurat Niyazov. Western diplomats in Ashgabat report that he is widely rumored to be Niyazov’s illegitimate son.

No meaningful political opposition exists in Turkmenistan—attitudes other than sycophancy toward the nation’s leader are unwelcome, and critics are quickly silenced. The country’s higher-education system has been carefully dismantled, and students who travel abroad to seek a college degree quickly find themselves labeled enemies of the state and placed on secret lists for apprehension at border posts.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

US Soldier guns down 16 Afghan Civilians-Including 9 Children


A US soldier has killed at least 16 civilians after opening fire on them near a US military base in Kandahar. There are nine children among the victims, Afghan authorities say.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai qualified the incident as an “assassination” and demanded an explanation from Washington, reports the Associated Press.

"This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven," Karzai said in a statement.

An official from the Panjwai district of Kandahar told The New York Times that the US soldier broke into three houses near the military base, killing 11 in the first and four in the second. He wounded a further five.
According to one of the villagers the soldier acted alone and there was no fighting, adding that one of the houses raided belonged to a tribal elder.



Also here are a couple other war crimes...

'Disgusting' video is 'recruitment tool for the Taliban': Outrage across the world after footage emerges showing U.S. troops 'urinating on dead Afghan bodies'



 Quran burning: Mistake, crime, and metaphor
The failure of the US to appreciate the seriousness of Quran burnings undermines claims of benevolence in Afghanistan.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

100-year-old Vancouver Island driver stopped for speeding for first time

 Stories of the Enduring human spirit are awesome...

VICTORIA— It took 100 years for one B.C. man to tarnish his perfect driving record.
The centenarian was stopped for speeding in a school zone Tuesday, a shock to a traffic officer in the Victoria suburb of Saanich when she saw the 1911 birthdate on a driver’s licence, which was good for another five years.
The traffic officer pulled over the 100-year-old driver in a Buick Century when he was spotted going 50 kilometres an hour in a school zone, where the limit is 30 kilometres an hour.
The man had a flawless driving record, so the traffic officer gave him a warning ticket.
“I was shocked, not only at the 100 years of age, but the brand new five-year renewal driver licence,” said Const. Janice Carmena.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bearing Witness in Syria: A Correspondent’s Last Days


It was damp and cold as Anthony Shadid and I crossed in darkness over the barbed-wire fence that separated Turkey from Syria last month. We were also crossing from peace into war, into the bloodiest conflict of the Arab Spring, exploding just up the rocky and sparsely wooded mountain we had to climb once inside.

The smugglers waiting for us had horses, though we learned they were not for us. They were to carry ammunition and supplies to the Free Syrian Army. That is the armed opposition group, made up largely of defectors from President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal army, we had come to interview, photograph and try to understand. 

The ammunition seemed evidence of the risk we were taking — a risk we did not shoulder lightly. Anthony, who passionately documented the eruptions in the Arab world from Iraq to Libya for The New York Times, felt it was essential that journalists get into Syria, where about 7,000 people have been killed, largely out of the world’s view. We had spent months planning to stay safe.
It turned out the real danger was not the weapons but...


Friday, March 2, 2012

How Google Collects Data About You and the Internet

When do we get barcodes on our foreheads?


Google’s unstoppable data collection machine

There are many different aspects of Google’s data collection. The IP addresses requests are made from are logged, cookies are used for settings and tracking purposes, and if you are logged into your Google account, what you do on Google-owned sites can often be coupled to you personally, not just your computer.

In short, if you use Google services, Google will know what you’re searching for, what websites you visit, what news and blog posts you read, and more. As Google adds more services and its presence gets increasingly widespread, the so-called Googlization (a term coined by John Batelle and Alex Salkever in 2003) of almost everything continues.

The information you give to any single one of Google’s services wouldn’t be much to huff about. The really interesting dilemma comes when you use multiple Google services, and these days, who doesn’t?
Try using the Internet for a week without touching a single one of Google’s services. This means no YouTube, no Gmail, no Google Docs, no clicking on Feedburner links, no Google search, and so on. Strictly, you’d even have to skip services that Google partner with, so, sorry, no Twitter either.

This increasing Googlization is probably why some people won’t want to use Google’s Chrome OS, which will be strongly coupled with multiple Google services and most likely give Google an unprecedented amount of data about your habits.